Artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby Wins One of the Smithsonian's Highest Awards

Nigerian-American artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby has won one of the Smithsonian's most prestigious awards. Crosby was awarded the James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize, a $25,000 award bestowed by the Smithsonian American Art Museum to artists, who “consistently demonstrate exceptional creativity.” 

32-year-old Njideka Akunyili Crosby's large-scale portraits and still-life works display her American husband, her African family members engaging in domestic activities. Crosby puts an innovative spin on classical academic Western painting ideals through her works which incorporate photo-transfers, collages, pastel and pencil drawings with acrylic paints.
“We've had recipients of this award who work in lots of different media, but never someone who's coming out of a more traditional Western painting legacy,” says museum's curator and Dicke prize administrator Joanna Marsh. “I think that's an important part of both our collection and our focus. It's wonderful to be able to give the award this year to someone who upholds that tradition.”

“Your eyes are traversing multiple universes,” Akunyili Crosby says about her art. “You're jumping through all these languages of making art, but then you’re also making jumps in continents. It’s this constant shifting and movement across places and time.”

View her portraits below.